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How to Deal with Trials & Temptations | Growth Through Hard Times

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2023 3:00 am

How to Deal with Trials & Temptations | Growth Through Hard Times

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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June 21, 2023 3:00 am

The trees with the strongest root systems are not those where a breeze blows gently through the leaves. No, the strongest trees face challenging winds which cause their root systems to grow deeper. Could it be that God is revealing a lesson about how winds of adversity affect our spiritual roots? Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see what’s happening when trials and tribulations are blowing against us. We’ll learn how to embrace the growth, and find joy in the journey.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free e-books designed to help you grow in your faith. Make a choice regardless of my emotions. Make a choice to rejoice. Trees with the strongest root systems are not those where a breeze blows gently through the leaves.

No, the strongest trees face challenging winds, which cause their root systems to grow deeper. Could it be that God is revealing a lesson about how winds of adversity affect our spiritual roots? Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see what's happening when trials and tribulations are blowing against us.

We'll learn how to embrace the growth and find joy in the journey. We're starting a brand new series and it's called Walk This Way based on the book of James. So let's start at the very beginning because that's a very good place to start. James chapter one. James chapter one and the title of my message is how to deal with trials and temptations. So I remember when I was a brand new Christian.

I'd just given my life to Jesus Christ and the Christians came to me and said, now, Greg, we want to tell you you're going to go through trials. And my response was, what? I'm going to go on trial? What?

No, no. You're going to go through trials. I said, I don't know what that means. They said a trial is a time when maybe you don't sense God's presence or you're going through a hardship or a difficulty.

That's called a trial. Okay. And they said, and you're also going to get tempted by the devil. And I didn't know anything about the devil.

I just believed in Jesus. Wait. There's a devil for real? Yes. Oh, this.

Okay. How will I know when I'm getting tempted by the devil? They said, you'll know.

And I did because the first time a temptation came it was so overt it was almost laughable. So I'm still in high school and there's this really attractive girl. And she, I noticed her but I never talked to her. And so after class one day, I'm a brand new believer.

I've got a little button on with a little picture of Jesus on it. And she walks up to me and says, hi, what's your name? And I momentarily forgot my name. Like why is this pretty girl talking to me? I don't know what to say. And she says, you're really cute. Which I was.

I'm just dumbfounded. I go, what is happening? And she says, hey, my parents, we have a cabin in the mountains and they're going to not be there this weekend.

Would you like to go to the mountains with me and spend the weekend with me? I thought, this is temptation. Yeah.

And here's how I knew. Because stuff like that never happened to me. Okay.

I know you probably think I was some magnet for beautiful women. No, actually, I wasn't. That never happened. I know you didn't think that either.

But it never happened. I thought, this is clearly a temptation. Well, listen, we're all going to be tempted and we're all going to go through trials. And I wish I could say after 30 years of walking with the Lord, it all stops.

No, it does not. It continues on. So I want to talk to you about how to deal with trials and temptations. And I wonder if I'm talking to someone right now who's going through a fiery trial. It's just seemingly out of nowhere.

The bottom is dropped out for you. And it's just like problem after problem, trouble after trouble keep coming your way and you're wondering why. Or maybe I'm talking to somebody who is in the hot water of temptation and it's just hitting you left and right. You're getting tempted to do the wrong thing. Wicked thoughts keep jumping into your mind seemingly out of nowhere. But they're not out of nowhere. The Bible calls those King James, the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And here's how it works. You're maybe worshipping. You're lifting your hands of the Lord. And all of a sudden, it's this evil thought like where did that come from? It came from the devil. Maybe that's happening to you right now and you're wondering why.

But listen to this. Maybe one of the reasons it's happening to you right now is not because you're not doing well spiritually but because you are. Maybe one of the reasons it's happening to you right now is because you are a threat to the devil and his demonic forces.

In other words, you're on the right track spiritually. It's been said Christians are a lot like tea bags. You don't know what they're made of until you put them in hot water. Maybe you're in hot water right now. But then I'm talking to somebody who would say you know actually I can't remember the last trial I went through and I can't remember the last time I was tempted to do evil. Aren't I wonderful?

No. You're probably just lame. You know the old expression you don't kick a dead horse. Maybe the devil looks at you and says well they're effectively immobilized. They're no threat to me.

Why waste my time with them? I'm going after that Christian that's out there making a difference. That Christian that's sharing the gospel.

That Christian that is serious about their walk with God. If you engage in sharing your faith, you will come under spiritual attack. But don't let that discourage you.

Let it encourage you. Remember Jesus said that we're the church and the gates of hell would not prevail against us. Have you ever wondered what that actually means? The gates of hell. Think of a fortress. You've seen movies where there's a castle that's being stormed and they come in with a battering ram and they pour the boiling oil over the side of the wall right. Okay so we're the ones with the battering ram. The fortress is the kingdom of darkness. So we're coming in and the devil's trying to stop us so when Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against you what he means is those gates won't keep you out.

Keep pressing in. That's why we're always looking for new creative innovative ways to reach unexpected people in unexpected places with the gospel. That's why we do our crusade. That's why we're in media like radio, television, social media. That's why we're working on these films right now. Because we can reach people with a film that would not necessarily even show up in a church.

But we all need to be looking for creative ways to reach people with the gospel. Okay so back to the book of James. Alright so this book was written to the Jewish people who were scattered all over the place. There was a time when Israel ruled their own land and they had their kings like David and Solomon. Well those times were over. Now the occupying force was Rome.

They were effectively under the control of the Caesars and the various Roman governors. And they were suffering and they were unhappy. So the book of James was written for suffering people. And maybe I'm talking to somebody right now that's suffering in life.

Then this book is for you. The book of James was written by the half brother of Jesus James. Let me explain what I mean by half brother. The mother of James was Mary. The father of James was Joseph. In the case of Jesus the mother of Jesus was Mary. The father of Jesus was the father in heaven right. But Joseph was an amazing stepfather.

Earthly father figure that God chose. But he had siblings. And I bring this up because sometimes it said Jesus had no brothers and sisters. It was an immaculate conception. And Mary herself was sinless.

Not true. And not biblical. Mary was a sinner like everybody else. But she was chosen by God. And Jesus was supernaturally conceived in her womb. But he was raised with these other brothers.

And here is now his half brother James writing this epistle. Now you would think they would all just believe in Jesus right away. Who is a better example than Jesus? Who is a better kid than Jesus? He would do all of his chores cheerfully and then some more things. He would have been the best little boy you ever saw. The best teenager you ever saw.

The best young adult you ever laid your eyes on. But they didn't know who he was quite yet. And even after he began his public ministry we read in John 7 5 even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Which brings me to my first point. Even living a perfect Christian life will not convince some people. Even living a perfect Christian life will not convince some people. Who is more perfect than Jesus? He never lied. He never stole. He never lost his temper. I mean I even wonder if sometimes Mary would say kids why can't you be more like Jesus?

He is such a good boy. In fact Joseph made these little wooden bracelets for you to wear. W W J D. What would Jesus do?

Think about that. I doubt that happened. But the point is he was a perfect example yet his own family did not believe initially. Matthew 13 tells us that Christ went to the hometown of Nazareth to perform miracles. And you know what they said?

Hey isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And they took offense at him. And Jesus said a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. And you know when James actually did believe in Jesus? After he was crucified and he rose again from the dead. And the Bible says he appeared to his brother. So James who knew Jesus very well is the author of this book. Yet he never name drops.

I mean it would be hard to not work that into every conversation. James would be talking to people and he would say something like I remember when my brother Jesus said this to me in our childhood. What did he say? But he doesn't do that. He doesn't even identify himself as having any connection to Jesus via the family. He just declares himself as a servant.

Let's read about it. James 1 verse 1. James a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes which are scattered abroad.

Greetings my brothers. Count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its perfect work so that you may be complete and perfect lacking nothing.

Ok. So I am ready to give you point number two. Point number one.

Even living a perfect Christian life will not convince some people. Point number two. We need to make a choice to rejoice when we go through times of trial. We need to make a choice to rejoice. So look at verse two again. My brothers count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Another translation says count it pure unmixed complete and total joy.

Wait. What? When I am going through a trial I am supposed to have total joy during that time. Well what does that even mean? James is not saying that trials themselves are joy because usually they are not.

Hebrews 12 11 says no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. So when James is saying consider it joy he is just saying make a choice to rejoice. I know this is hard. I know you wish it wasn't happening.

I know you wish it was over but despite that I am going to choose to rejoice regardless of my emotions. See that is very important. This is not a matter of feelings. This is a matter of the will. The more we rejoice in our testings the more we realize they are not liabilities but privileges.

Ultimately helpful not harmful no matter how severe they may appear. Here is an example of Paul and Silas thrown into a dungeon for preaching the gospel. Yet we read at midnight Paul and Silas sang praises to God and the other prisoners were listening. Philippians 4 says rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say rejoice.

Or take poor Job. Oh Job. He was living the greatest life ever. Beautiful estate.

Wonderful children. A very successful career. Everything was going Job's way. And then a series of attacks came against Job. Why? Because he was a godless man.

No listen. Because he was a godly man they came. Because God was bragging on Job in heaven and the devil was listening in. And the Lord said to Satan a fallen angel with other angels. The Lord said have you considered my servant Job a perfect and upright man. One that fears God and shunned evil. Satan heard that and said oh give me a break. Give me a little time with Job.

We will see what he is made of. When I read that story I am thinking Lord if you are ever even for a moment feeling proud of me can you keep it to yourself. Especially if the devil is within earshot. So you know even Job's friends who ended up not being the greatest friends were watching this.

They suggested you must have done something really bad for this to happen to you. Actually it was the opposite. He was doing something really good you see. But so then a series of calamities befell Job. He lost his possessions. He lost his children. He lost his health. He is covered in huge boils. Medical experts have tried to figure out what was happening to him. Maybe it was leprosy. Maybe it was extreme melanoma which is a form of skin cancer or whatever it was.

He was covered head to toe in these boils and was using a fragment of broken pottery to scratch at it. Just a pathetic sight. But yet we read that Job fell down before God and said naked came I from my mother's womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gives and the Lord is taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Powerful. You make a choice to rejoice. We need a theology of thanksgiving. An attitude of gratitude. And by the way this attitude of choosing to rejoice when things are not going well will not only help you spiritually it will help you physically as well. Research shows that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they also feel healthier than other people. A researcher on the topic of gratitude made this statement and I quote gratitude reduces toxic emotions ranging from envy and frustration. It reduces depression and actually increases happiness. Experts say grateful people sleep better too.

Isn't that interesting? Just choosing to be grateful. Making a choice to rejoice despite the circumstances that you're going through. You know gratitude can change your mood. It might just start with a smile.

It takes 17 muscles to smile, 43 to frown. And they've discovered that smiling triggers mind boosting neurotransmitters, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Just smiling. Feel a smile. Right now smile. Go. Pretty good. You're not smiling sir.

Yes. Just smile. I don't feel like smiling. Smile anyway.

Point number three. Trials happen to make us stronger in every way. Trials happen to make us stronger in every way. Look at verse three. Knowing the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Now by the way the word patience is probably not the best translation.

I'm reading from the New King James Version here. It comes from a Greek word that translates out to toughness or fortitude. Another translation uses the word endurance or staying power. So trials come into our life to produce endurance and staying power. Trials make you stronger not weaker.

A modern translation of James 3 4 goes as follows. So let it grow and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom you're ready for anything. Strong in character, full and complete.

I like that translation. It's a lot like going to the gym. How many of you ever go to the gym? Raise your hand. Okay. Some of you might think about it. Just saying. But I go to the gym.

It's hard to believe. Usually twice a week. I don't like to go to the gym. I'll make up every excuse not to go. And when I get there I'm not happy I'm there. And then I'll work out. But when I'm done I'm happy.

Because that actually brings me more energy. I'll walk in with low energy. I don't want to.

I'm not in the mood. Then I begin to you know do whatever. Play a little racquetball lift a few weights etc. I come out feeling stronger. It's almost like the opposite of what you would think. You break something down to build it up.

You break down the muscle to build up the muscle. The same is true spiritually. We might say man I'm just feeling tired and lethargic all the time. Well I don't have any spiritual energy. Well maybe you need an outlet. Well I'm reading my Bible every day and I'm regular in church.

I'm in a small group and I'm doing all these great things. What's wrong? You need an outlet. You can't just take in. You've got to give out.

If you only take in and give out you're going to become spiritually obese. So it's time to get off your fat lazy boy recliner. What did you think I was going to say? Well where are your minds at today? Get off the chair and get to work.

Well I'm just tired. No you will find this amazing thing. You will be energized as you start serving the Lord. This is why we encourage you to serve. We know this is one of the building blocks of the Christian life. So trials are like God's gym where we're broken down in order to be built up. Trials take our faith from the realm of theory to reality so we can start living out our faith in the real world.

I wish I could tell you that you get to a certain stage and the trials stop. And the temptations cease. But that day will not come until we get to heaven. So until that day we need to press on.

And what do we do? Verse 2, count it all joy when you encounter these trials. Give God the glory and count it all joy. Pastor Greg Laurie, pointing out the value of trials in our lives. Good encouragement for the challenging but productive times of the Christian life.

Pastor Greg has more from this message here on A New Beginning. You know Pastor Greg, I did a search for movies that people had watched over and over and over again. And there were a lot of surprises on the list. Some of the movies are just so bad. They're either just silly movies or they're movies that are so offensive I wouldn't sit through them once. But there's a recent movie that people have seen in theaters repeatedly 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 times. And I know they'd like to be able to see it in their own homes.

And we're talking about? We're talking about the Jesus Revolution film. You know it exceeded everyone's expectations. I read an article just the other day with a headline, why are so many people going to see Jesus Revolution? And the person writes and just asks this question, what is it about this film? And I think the reason it's connecting is it's not a big budget film like, you know, Top Gun or Avatar or something like that. It's a powerful story, beautifully told, amazing performances. But I think the reason it connects and resonates is because it's a true story of real people.

It shows the flaws of the people in the movie. And I think that people connect because there's so many storylines woven together. There's a story of a young Greg with his alcoholic mother and the struggles they had. There's a story of Pastor Chuck and Lonnie Frisbee, the hippie evangelist that came together opposite to Tracting, Nitro meeting Glycerin, Lennon meeting McCartney, Jobs meeting Wozniak, an explosive reaction and something amazing happened. It's also the story of Greg and Kathy and it's a love story.

This is what people may not know. This is a beautiful love story of two teenagers that fell in love. In fact, I want to play a scene.

Now unfortunately you can't see it so use your imaginations. This is one of my favorite scenes in the film. So Greg and Kathy have conflicts which is true in real life. It shows us arguing with each other and so they've broken up at this point. So Greg had gone to Kathy's father at this point in the story and asked for permission to marry his daughter and Kathy's father said no and Greg's disillusioned and discouraged and then him and Kathy break up but then Greg comes to his senses and he realizes he loves Kathy and he wants to marry her so he goes to her house.

Now he had just baptized some people down at Pirate's Cove in Newport Beach so he was wet when he walked into the house. He had friction with Kathy's dad up to this point but now Kathy's dad has had a change of heart. I'm giving away plot details of the movie here folks but Kathy's father has had a change of heart toward Greg because Kathy's father went and sat outside one of the services at Calvary Chapel and was moved by it. So Greg comes to the front door and he knocks. Kathy's father answers and now Greg has his encounter with Kathy where he's trying to put this relationship back together again.

Listen to this. Hey. Hi. Hi Greg. Hi Eve. Good evening. Sorry to barge in so late.

I did not know how wet I was until just right now and your hard work floors. Oh I'm so sorry. And you're not wearing any shoes. Yeah yeah I'm not. You're right about that but I just I got to tell you something. I've been really stupid lately. Obviously you know that.

I'm sure you've heard. I'm so sorry that I pushed you away and I hurt you. It was so dumb. It was really dumb. Really dumb. It really was.

The dumbest. Yeah but I wanted to ask you if you still mean what you said the other day about what you want with us. Because I got really big plans Kathy. Hopes and dreams. I've got goals. And I want to do it with you.

Together. You and I. Because I get you. I need you. I want you. And I. Love you. Yeah.

Like a lot. So what what what is this. Is this your way of proposing to me. Oh. What would you say if it was.

If you ever get in the way of me and God. So. Is that your way of saying yes. Yes.

That's true in real life. She said yes thank God for that. Guess what. Kathy and I in real life are going into our 50th year of marriage. Wow congratulations. Well thank you very much. And so listen it's a beautiful love story among other things. It's a beautiful salvation story. It's a story of conflicts and resolution. It's a story of Jesus at work in the lives of so many people.

It's probably your story as well. So many people connect with different characters. Different aspects of this film. And I want you to have your own copy of it so you can see that scene I just described as well as hear it. I'm offering to you for the first time the Jesus Revolution film on DVD.

Now I know it's out there in streaming platforms and maybe some of you have already seen it in a theater or maybe you've watched it at home but listen the reason you want this DVD is so you can now watch it when you want to watch it and show it to who you want to show it to. And it has special bonus content including a presentation of the gospel I did complete with a prayer where a person can accept Christ into their life. You can use this movie as an evangelistic outreach. And listen kids love it. Young people love it.

Especially the love story of Kathy and Greg. So get your own copy of the Jesus Revolution film. I'll send it to you for your gift of any size. Now let me add that we had to pay more for this particular film than we normally would pay for a resource that we would offer you so I'm going to ask you to be extra generous in what you send to us here at Harvest so we can continue to teach the word of God and preach the gospel. So order your own copy of the Jesus Revolution film on DVD right now. Yeah that's right and we can send it your way as soon as we hear from you and we'll include the DVD along with a free streaming code. And thank you so much for your partnership that allows these daily studies to come your way each day.

This film is a keeper and we want to make sure you get one of the first copies on DVD. So call us today at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to Harvest.org. I don't know if you know about this but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world.

Listen to this. We even have Harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the Word of God. So join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg offers more help with our times of trial and temptation from his brand new series in the book of James. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at Harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-21 05:48:29 / 2023-06-21 05:59:08 / 11

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